Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis can happen to anyone, but it can be prevented or treated if discovered early.

Deep vein thrombosis can happen to anyone, but it can be prevented or treated if discovered early.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the calves, thighs or pelvis.

Blood clots can cause the following problems:

  • Reduce or block blood flow in your legs, causing chronic pain and swelling and making it difficult for you to walk.
  • Damage valves in blood vessels, causing chronic pain and swelling.
  • Break free and travel through your bloodstream to your lungs (known as pulmonary embolism). There, a clot can cause damage or even death within hours.

Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis

People with DVT may not have symptoms. Among those who do, the following symptoms can occur in one or both legs:

  • Swelling
  • Pain or tenderness, possibly only when standing or walking
  • Red or discolored skin on the affected area
  • Increased warmth in the affected area

Deep Vein Thrombosis Risk Factors

  • Injury to a vein, often caused by major surgery, fractures or muscle injury
  • Slow blood flow as a result of bed rest, paralysis or sitting for a long time while traveling
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Family history of blood clots
  • Estrogen or hormonal therapy
  • Cancer

Your primary care physician can examine you if one or both legs are swollen, red or painful. If your doctor suspects DVT, you may need the following tests:

  • Blood tests, including a d-dimer test to check for a substance released by blood clotting
  • Ultrasound imaging of the legs to look for blood clots

Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment at RUSH

At RUSH, hematologists and vascular specialists treat DVT to prevent any existing clots from worsening and new clots from forming. Depending on your specific needs, your treatment may include the following:

  • Anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medication to prevent blood clots
  • Thrombolytic (clot-dissolving) medication to treat clots that don’t dissolve on their own
  • Compression stockings to reduce leg swelling and improve blood circulation
  • Endovascular therapies to remove or dissolve blood clots
  • Minimally-invasive filter placement into the largest vein (inferior vena cava) to prevent a clot from traveling to the lungs or heart
  • Surgery to remove a blood clot or bypass a vein

RUSH Excellence in Deep Vein Thrombosis

  • All the experts in one system: Whether you need non-invasive care or surgery, RUSH has specialists at a number of locations who can care for you. Your care team may include hematologists who focus exclusively on diagnosing and treating blood clots and bleeding disorders, as well as interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons who provide surgical treatment if you need it.
  • Alternatives to surgery: Endovascular therapies are also available at RUSH to treat blood clots, resulting in smaller incisions and a quicker recovery than traditional surgery.